UK’s leading press regulators agree to guidelines seeking changes in media reporting of domestic abuse

The feminist organization Level Up developed a set of guidelines to inform journalists on how to go forward in their reporting of gender violence.

Gea Alessi
Gea Alessi NewsMavens, Europe
UK’s leading press regulators agree to guidelines seeking changes in media reporting of domestic abuse - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

The new guidelines seek to change the way domestic violence is portrayed in the news. Journalists will be educated on how to write about the subject in a way to spare any further trauma to the families of domestic homicide victims. These guidelines were put together by a group of academics, domestic violence charities and families of survivors. 

They consist of the following five points:

  1. Accountability: Place responsibility solely on the killer, which means avoiding speculative “reasons” or “triggers”, or describing the murder as an uncharacteristic event. Homicides are usually underpinned by a longstanding sense of ownership, coercive control and possessive behaviours, they are not a random event.
  2. Accuracy: Name the crime as domestic violence, instead of “tragedy” or “horror”, and include the National Domestic Violence Helpline at the end of every article.
  3. Dignity: Avoid sensationalising language, invasive or graphic details that compromise the dignity of the dead woman or her surviving family members.
  4. Equality: Avoid insensitive or trivialising language or images.
  5. Images: Avoid using stock images that reinforce the myth that it’s only a physical crime            

“Too often journalists report on crimes of control as crimes of passion, now there is no excuse for bad reporting. ” were the words of Level Up campaign director Janey Starling. 

She hopes these guidelines will put an end to the media's habit of framing these crimes through the myth of the "good guy losing control". 

Details from the story:

  • IPSO and IMPRESS are the two press regulators that have agreed to adopt the guidelines  
  • The organization Level Up was founded in 2016; its goal is to challenge sexism in the United Kingdom through activism and education.
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